With Russian airstrikes dealing heavy losses to the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group, reports have surfaced that Iranian troops will soon launch a ground offensive alongside the Syrian army to retake Aleppo.
Last week, IS fighters managed to seize a large swathe of Aleppo, in Syria’s north. While Syrian forces have already reclaimed part of that territory, a ground offensive will be launched in the coming days to purge the terrorist group from the area.
According to two senior regional officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, the offensive will include a coalition including Syrian and Iranian troops, protected by Russian air support.
“The big battle preparations in that area are clear,” one of the officials told Reuters. “There is a large mobilization of the Syrian army…elite Hezbollah fighters, and thousands of Iranians who arrived in stages in recent days.”
A second official, who is close to the Syrian government, reaffirmed the plan.
“The decision to launch the battle of Aleppo has been taken…It is no longer hidden that thousands of Iranians are now in Syria and their role is fundamental.”
This follows the death of Hossein Hamedani, a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Tehran’s military confirmed on Friday that the Hamedani had been killed in Aleppo province while advising Assad’s forces in its fight against IS.
In the last 24 hours, Russian aircraft have carried out 88 sorties against terrorist command posts, weapon storage facilities, and explosive manufacturing centers.
“Over the past day, Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25SM aircraft completed 88 sorties on 86 terrorist infrastructure positions in the Raqqa, Hama, Idlib, Latakia, and Aleppo regions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday.
These have already significantly weakened the Islamic State’s presence. Radio intercepts reveal that militants are running low on ammunition and threatening to abandon combat zones.